EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It feels like déjà vu for Odell Beckham Jr.
The New York Giants wide receiver continues to stand on the sideline, nursing a hamstring injury while his team goes through offseason practices. It happened all last summer and has been happening again this spring, and Beckham understands why it looks like more of the same to the outside world.
But in an interview this week with ESPN, Beckham said he hates not being able to practice and isn't at all comfortable with sitting out -- or the good-natured ribbing he's taking from his teammates about it.
"For me, this is what I love doing, and this is what I feel like my purpose was to do," Beckham said. "So it takes a lot of strength for me to be able to come here every day and not practice, have to hear the little remarks, the little jokes, this and that.
"And it's not just about a hamstring. It's so many other things that people talk about. So it's hard to come here and try and focus on 'What play is up right now?' instead of thinking about how bad you want to be out there."
Beckham injured his left hamstring last year in spring practices, injured it again at the start of training camp and missed all of training camp and the first four games of his rookie season before finally making his debut. Once he did hit the field, he did so in spectacular fashion, catching 91 passes for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns in only 12 games to earn NFL Rookie of the Year honors.
Those accomplishments spun Beckham into an offseason of high-profile celebrity, including encounters with sports mega-stars from LeBron James to David Beckham and the honor of being selected for the cover of EA Sports' "Madden NFL 16" video game.
Things were going well until a few weeks ago, when Beckham felt a tweak in his right hamstring. The Giants held him out of the last few OTA practices as a precaution, and he's not practicing this week during mandatory minicamp. He and injured teammate Victor Cruz have run some sprints on their own during warm-ups and then watch from the sideline, just as Beckham did all throughout camp last year.
He said the biggest difference for him is being able to get something out of the downtime this year.
"I think I can better focus on a practice if I'm not practicing," Beckham said. "Like, last year when I was out, it was so hard for me to sit there and have to watch people do rep-by-rep and I'm just sitting there, you know, wishing to be out there. Because I would much rather do every single rep of practice than sit out practices."
That's something Beckham clearly wants to get across, especially to those who have been kidding him about sitting out practices.
"Everybody," Beckham said when asked who was giving him grief. "Because of the hamstring last year and then the fame, it's like, 'Oh, you're too big-time now,' all that. So I mean, I just hear it and you want to blow it off, but after a while it gets old, and it kind of bothers you."
Beckham considers it all part of the maturing process he's going through as he prepares for his second season. He and the Giants are confident his hamstring will be fine when training camp starts at the end of July. But if it requires more time off, Beckham believes he's better prepared to make the most of it than he was a year ago.
"That was the biggest jump for me," he said. "Just to be able to have some peace of mind and just know that, 'All right. You'll get healthy. Just focus on the plays, and that's all you can do for right now.'"